UPDATE: It seems the Mavericks have decided to use Parsons in the second half for Thursday's game, per ESPN Dallas' Tim MacMahon. He isn't in the starting lineup.
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Chandler Parsons has been back for two games. In both games, the starting five played better with his presence before being outscored in the fourth quarter, even if Dallas did hold onto win against the Lakers last Sunday.
After Tuesday's loss to the undefeated Toronto Raptors, Parsons said he'd "almost rather play the second half" only, rather than be limited to just the first half. Parsons is currently limited to playing about 15 minutes per game and his minute restriction could last the entirety of 2015 before it's fully lifted. When asked, head coach Rick Carlisle expressed a willingness to consider Parsons' idea, although he also voiced concerns.
"Anything's on the table," Carlisle said at Mavericks' practice on Wednesday. "The problem is you do that and basically you're asking a guy to come in cold and start the second half. Who knows what's been established in the first half. For me, the problem was getting down in the first quarter. There's no greater indicator of success in this league than having strong first quarters, especially at home. If we want to play our best, a stronger start is going to go a longer way than trying to move our pieces around in the lineup. That said, anything's on the table."
Parsons played both sides in Wednesday's practice, understanding the difficulties of the decision.
"You set the tempo and the rhythm in the first half so it's difficult, but that's not really up to me," Parsons said. "I'm OK with either. I could either start the game and try to get us momentum or I can come in the second half and try to get in the game. It's something we've got to talk about and figure out. The last thing I want to do is mess up the rhythm of the team who have got something going in the first half."
Certainly, this is only a problem until Parsons' minutes restriction is actually lifted or increases to a point where he can play both halves, even if he's limited.
"The more I play, the better my knee feels, the more minutes I think I'll be able to play," Parsons said. "As long as there's no swelling or anything happens I think I'll keep progressing."
In the two games, Parsons has gone from 11 minutes to 14 on Tuesday. He said he's hoping for 16 minutes in Thursday's matchup against the Charlotte Hornets. He also said he wouldn't want to play just four minutes per quarter.
Ultimately, the advantages of warm ups and spending his pre-game period getting the proper treatment on his knee is likely too much to pass up for Parsons to shift his focus to the second half. If you only play him in the final two quarters, there may also be awkward decisions to make about whether he plays in a game that's already decided to reach his minutes quota or sits. I doubt the Mavericks shift Parsons to a second half player over the next week or two, but it's an interesting subplot to watch for.